Bill Gates Agrees Teachers Are ‘Nerd Farmers’ — Here’s What It Means

Bill Gates, in a recent interview, gets excited about the phrase “nerd farmer” — turning the socially negative into something economically powerful.

Via LinkedIn, Bill Gates writes a personal note regarding the future generations. Gates considers himself a proud nerd. And, Bill’s net worth boasts uncontested.


Nevertheless, in Bill Gate’s public education note, he recalled a recent experience with State of Washington Teacher of the Year Nate Bowling.

Gates gets the phrase “nerd farmer” from Bowling, actually. Bill mentions that the teacher had his full attention. Gates even sat up in his chair at the sound of the phrase.


“I joke about being a nerd farmer,” mentions the Teacher of the Year. “I’m trying to cultivate a kind of scholarship in students, and a passion for learning. So I bring passion to the classroom, and they see that and rise to the occasion.”

And, if you know Bill Gates, his net worth isn’t where it is today without him being a curious mind.


So, he asked why the teacher was so passionate about the students.

According to Bowling, he says it deals with “life” or “death.”

“If my students are not successful in school, they end up in the prison-industrial complex,” the teacher elaborates.

Bill Gates listened intensely as he clarified.

If you’re interested, you can watch Gates’ interview in the video below.

Afterward, Gates understood that over half of the teacher’s students were of African- and Hispanic-American minorities. Bill expounds with the following statement.

“More than 70 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, which makes Lincoln [High School] a textbook example of what educators call the New Majority, reflecting the fact that more than half the students in American public schools today live in poverty.”

However, Bill Gates notes that Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington — where Bowling teaches — has different results than the statistical New Majority generally produces.

According to Gates, 40 percent of the students are taking Advanced Placement courses.

U.S. News says Lincoln’s AP collective is 8 percent higher than Bill Gate’s note.

Moreover, the school has a graduation rate of 80 percent.

During Bill Gates’ interview with the teacher, it became apparent that his instruction style was very different from the average classroom leader. Likewise, he has the school’s principal behind him.

“All kids can learn if they have the support… I can’t teach the class like I would to a group of kids who were all on grade level, but those kids can achieve.

“My principal and I have an understanding. We’re not concerned about kids passing the AP exam. We just want them to learn. I would rather have 100 percent of the kids in the most difficult class and have 25 pass the AP test, than have 25 kids in it and 100 percent pass.”

Bill Gates also heavily agrees with the teacher’s nationally-recognized blog post, “The Conversation I’m Tired Of Not Having.”

“I certainly agree that those of us who live in the suburbs by and large don’t see what’s going on in inner-city schools,” says Gates. “It’s like two different worlds. This is one reason why Melinda and I get out and visit different schools around the country as part of our foundation’s education work, which is all about supporting the New Majority.”

In further agreement with the teacher, Bill Gates feels that instructors should be offered more incentives to teach in “high-need” schools.


“And that starts with recognizing that the demands of teaching in a high-poverty school are different from the demands of teaching in a wealthy one,” mentions Gates. “It also means giving effective teachers autonomy.”

If you’re an educator, do you feel the same about your students as Bill Gates and Nate Bowling? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Photo by Seth Wenig/AP Images]